Friday, February 5, 2010

"Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs"

Blaize Clement is the author of the Dixie Hemingway mysteries: Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter, Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund, Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues, and Cat Sitter On A Hot Tin Roof.

She applied the Page 69 Test to Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs, the fifth novel in the series, and reported the following:
I laughed when I turned to page 69 of Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs to see if it met the "Page 69 Test." The page opens mid-conversation between pet sitter Dixie Hemingway and one of her clients. Dixie says, "I don't go around carrying a sign that says, 'Tell me your problems,' but somehow everybody who has one ends up on my doorstep."

Well, of course they do! Otherwise, a protagonist who's not a professional sleuth wouldn't get involved in mysteries. So page 69 definitely begins with a line that illustrates the entire book, not to mention the entire series. Better yet, it goes on to summarize an important part of the plot. "Saying doorstep made me think of Maureen and what I'd promised to do that night... If I'd told Tom about our plan to stuff a million dollars in a duffel bag and give it to kidnappers, he'd have given me the lecture of a lifetime."

Being a confirmed skeptic, I immediately flipped to random pages to see if every page contained elements of the plot of this particular book or of the series as a whole. They all had some passages that had something to do with character development or with place or with theme, but page 69 truly was more descriptive of plot than any of the other pages I sampled. Ford Madox Ford may have been right about pages 99 and 69 being keys to a book's character.

While page 69 only refers to one part of the book's plot -- two other people are missing in addition to the wealthy man whose wife has agreed to pay the ransom demand -- it provides a look inside the mind of a smart, capable woman who lets loyalty to old friends make her do some dumb and dangerous things. By the time the story ends, Dixie has learned that love is not for sissies, and that loyalty carried to an extreme becomes self-destructive martyrdom.
Read an excerpt from Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs, and learn more about the book and author at Blaize Clement's website and blog.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue